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Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake

You will love this nutty, subtly sweet Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake. The perfect sweet treat for your coffee break or sweet ending for a brunch! - Bake or Break

When I was working on recipes for 5 Ingredient Baking, I made a brown butter coffee cake that I really, really loved. As you likely well know, I have a weakness for brown butter. And with as much as I also love coffee cakes, I couldn’t resist taking the recipe I used in the book and adapting it to make this nutty version.

This is the kind of cake I like to bake on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning to provide us with a sweet treat for the weekend. It is just sweet enough to satisfy a dessert craving while providing a little morning treat as well.

The filling and topping are quite simple. Instead of a crumb-like mixture, I just combined chopped pecans with a bit of brown sugar and a hint of cinnamon. It keeps this recipe simple while still adding plenty of flavor and crunch.

You will love this nutty, subtly sweet Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake. The perfect sweet treat for your coffee break or sweet ending for a brunch! - Bake or Break

As with most coffee cakes, the batter is a bit thicker than a conventional cake batter. On the pourable/spreadable spectrum, it’s more toward the spreadable end. It can be a bit tricky to spread the last half of the batter over the filling, but it will work just fine if you drop the batter in smaller portions all over the filling and then spread each one. You may think you don’t have enough batter on the top layer to achieve that lovely ribbon of filling through the middle of the cake. But it will be rise up nicely as it bakes to create that effect.

This coffee cake has a subtlety about it that’s really quite lovely. It’s not too sweet. There’s not too much cinnamon. Yet it still has a wonderful, delightful flavor. I love the nuttiness from those sweet, cinnamon-y pecans on top that get toasted as the cake bakes. And, of course, the little bit of nuttiness and richness from the brown butter makes it even better.

Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake

Yield 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

This nutty, subtly sweet Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake is the perfect sweet treat for your coffee break or a sweet ending for a brunch!

You will love this nutty, subtly sweet Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake. The perfect sweet treat for your coffee break or sweet ending for a brunch! - Bake or Break


For the filling and topping:

  • 1 cup (120g) chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup (67g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake:

  • 10 tablespoons (141g) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (113g) sour cream


To make the filling and topping:

  1. Combine the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round or 8-inch square baking pan.
  2. Place the butter in a medium saucepan or skillet. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts and begins to foam.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan and the butter has a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. If desired, strain the butter to remove some or all of the browned bits.
  4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium speed*, beat the cooled butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. Gradually add the flour mixture, and mix just until combined. Stir in the sour cream.
  7. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan, and spread evenly. Sprinkle half of the filling/topping mixture over the cake batter. Carefully spread the remaining cake batter on top of the filling. Sprinkle the remaining filling/topping on top of the batter.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan before serving.


*You may also mix this cake by hand if you prefer.

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    7 Comments on “Brown Butter Pecan Coffee Cake”

  1. If I lived in your building, I would be at your door for coffee every morning. Luckily for you I live in California.

  2. This is a perfect dessert recipe for me, not too sweet and easy to make! Oh, and the brown butter…

  3. You had me at brown butter! So delicious. 🙂

  4. brown butter is my absolute fave and upping the nutty factor with pecans?? oh yes! pinning!

  5. The batter was so stiff and the cake was dry and crumbly. The flavor was good, but what went wrong?

    • Hi, Camille. Coffee cake batters are generally thicker than traditional cake batters, but it sounds like yours went beyond the norm. If you didn’t change anything about the recipe, my first guess is too much flour. If you scoop a measuring cup down into your flour, then you probably had too much. 

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